Obrázky stránek


CHAP. it contained. The desire to change this charter gave rise

to two parties, the “Suffrage,” and “The Law and 1845. Order ;" each determined to secure to their own party

the administration of affairs, and each elected State officers. Thomas W. Dorr, elected governor by the Suf

frage party, tried to seize the State arsenal ; the militia 1843. were called out by the other party, and he was compelled 18. to flee. In a second attempt his party was overpowered

by citizen soldiers, and he himself arrested, brought to trial, convicted of treason, and sentenced to imprisonment for life ; but some time afterward he was pardoned. A free constitution was in the mean time adopted by the people, under which they are now living.

Almost the last official act of President Tyler was to sign the bill for the admission of Iowa and Florida into the Union. “Two States, which seem to have but few things in common to put them together-one the oldest, the other the newest territory-one in the extreme northwest of the Union, the other in the extreme south-eastone the land of evergreens and perpetual flowers, the other the climate of long and rigorous winter-ope maintaining, the other repulsing slavery."



The Presidential Canvass.—Difficulties with Mexico.-General Taylor at

Corpus Christi.-Oregon Territory; respective Claims to.--Settlement of Boundary.--Taylor marches to the Rio Grande.—Thornton's Party surprised.-Attack on Fort Brown.--Battle of Palo Alto; of Resaca de la Palma.—Matamoras occupied.—Measures of Congress. The Volunteers.—Plan of Operations.—Mexico declares War.-General Wool.-General Worth. The Capture of Monterey.


On the 4th of March, James Knox Polk, of Tennessee, SHAP. was inaugurated President, and George Mifflin Dallas, of Pennsylvania, Vice-President ; James Buchanan was ap- 1915. pointed Secretary of State.

The canvass had been one of unusual interest and spirit. The candidates of the Whig party were Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen. The questions involved were the admission of Texas, and the settlement of the boundary line on the north-west, between the British possessions and Oregon.

The latter-for the Whigs were also in favor of its settlement--thrown in by the successful party.

The result of the election was assumed to be the expression of the will of the people in relation to the admission of Texas, which measure, as we have seen, the espiring administration had already consummated. We have now to record the events, the consequences in part of that measure.

Though France and England, as well as the United


CHAP. States, acknowledged the independence of Texas, Mexico

still claimed the territory, and threatened to maintain 1845. her claim by force of arms. In accordance with this

sentiment, two days after the inauguration of the new President, General Almonte, the Mexican minister at Washington, formally protested against the "joint resolutions” of Congress, then demanded his passports and left the country.

There were other points of dispute between the two governments. American merchants residing in Mexico, complained that their property had been appropriated by that government; that their ships, trading along the shores of the Gulf, had been plundered, and they could obtain no redress. The United States government again and again remonstrated against these outrages. The Mexican government, poverty-stricken and distracted by broils, was almost in a state of anarchy ; each party as it came into power repudiated the engagements made by its

predecessor. 1891. A treaty had been signed by which redress for these

grievances was promised ; the promise was not fulfilled, and the aggressions continued. Nine years later the Mexican government again acknowledged the justness of these demands, which now amounted to six millions of dollars, and pledged itself to pay them in twenty instalments, of three hundred thousand dollars each. Three of these had been paid, when the annexation of Texas took place, and, in consequence of that event, Mexico refused further compliance with the treaty.

Even if Mexico gave her consent for the annexation of Texas, another question arose : What was the western boundary of that territory; the Nueces or the Rio Grande ? Both parties claimed the region lying between these two rivers. The Legislature of Texas, alarmed at the warlike attitude assumed by Mexico, requested the United States government to protect their territory. Ac




cordingly the President sent General Zachary Taylor, with CHAP. fifteen hundred men, called the “ Army of Occupation, “to take position in the country between the Nueces and 1845. the Rio Grande, and to repel any invasion of the Texan territory.” General Taylor formed his camp at Corpus Christi, a small village at the mouth of the Nueces. There Sept he remained till the following spring. Also a portion of the Home squadron, under Commodore Conner, was sent into the Gulf to co-operate with the army.

army. Both ordered to commit no act of hostility against Mexico unless she declared war, or was herself the aggressor by striking the first blow.” 1

Though Mexico, in her weakness and distraction, had temporized and recently rejected an American minister, yet it was understood that she was now willing to receive one, and accordingly he had been sent. It was plain that upon the pending negotiations war or peace between the two republics depended. Meanwhile it was known that Mexico was marshalling her forces for a conflict.

The unsettled question in relation to the boundary of Oregon now engaged the attention of the President and his Secretary of State. Great Britain was from the first desirous to arrange the difficulty, though, as has been stated, the subject was passed over in the negotiations of the Washington treaty.

A few months after the ratification of that treaty, Mr. Henry S. Fox, the British minister at Washington, addressed a note to Daniel Webster, Secretary of State under Mr. Tyler, in which note he proposed to take up the subject of the Oregon boundary. The proposal was accepted, but for some reason negotiations were not commenced. Two years later, Sir Richard Packenham, then British minister at Washington, renewed the proposition

1812 Nov.

· President's Message, Dec. 1845.


CHAP. to Mr. Upshur, Secretary of State. It was accepted, but

a few days after Upshur lost his life by the lamentable 1844. explosion on board the Princeton. Six months later Feb.

Packenham again brought the matter to the notice of Mr. Calhoun, then Secretary of State. The proposition was promptly accepted, and the next day named for taking up the subject.

The claims of the respective parties may be briefly noticed. The region known as Oregon lay between the parallels of forty-two and fifty-four degrees and forty minutes

north latitude, the Rocky Mountains on the east, and the 1819. Pacific Ocean on the west. By the Florida Treaty, Spain

had ceded to the United States all her territory north of the parallel first mentioned ; commencing at the sources of the Arkansas and thence to the Pacific, and Mexico, har

ing thrown off the yoke of Spain, since confirmed by treaty 1828. the validity of the same boundary. The parallel of fifty

four degrees forty minutes was agreed upon by the United

States, Great Britain, and Russia, as the southern bound1826. ary of the possessions of the latter power.

The American claim was based upon the cession of

Spain, who was really the first discoverer; the discovery of 1792. Captain Gray, already mentioned; the explorations of Lewis

and Clarke, sent by the government of the United States ; and the settlement established at the mouth of the Colum

bia River, by John Jacob Astor of New York. Lewis and 1805, 1806.

Clarke, during Jefferson's administration, crossed the Rocky Mountains, came upon the southern main branch of the Columbia, and explored that river to its mouth.

The British claim was also based on discovery, and 1806. actual settlement founded by the North-West Company,

on Fraser's River, and also another on the head-waters of

the north branch of the Columbia. 1844. Calhoun came directly to the point, and proposed as

the boundary the continuation of the forty-ninth degree


« PředchozíPokračovat »